Maybe it’s because I’m a latecomer to Republicanism, having first pulled the R lever in 2003 for Arnold Schwarzenegger in the California recall election, but I’m confused. I thought one of the first duties, if not the first duty, of a political party was to win. If you don’t win, everything else, every policy, every theory, every idea, is air.
That was until I joined the GOP. I had read about the Spanish Inquisition and the Black Death, but now I know what real bloodletting is about. The attacks on Donald Trump by his fellow Republicans have been, to put it bluntly, waaaay out of proportion. If — as Trump himself said in his press conference Tuesday after winning handily in Mississippi and Michigan — Mitt Romney had attacked Obama with half the vitriol he has attacked Donald Trump with, Romney would be president today.
And then there’s the conservative punditocracy, so many of whom seem to be suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome — or perhaps it’s Trump Envy (for which I wouldn’t blame them).
But I ask — as someone who would gladly vote for any Republican candidate still running and probably any of the thirteen who dropped out — what exactly do they find so terrible about Donald Trump? Yes, Lord knows, he can be embarrassing (though I suspect we will be seeing less of that) and maybe he isn’t the most conservative of conservatives (wasn’t John Roberts supposed to be that?), but he is clearly one of the more politically shrewd candidates to come along in a while — and not just for a non-politician. Just the way he is turning post-primary victory speeches into quasi-press conferences, monopolizing the media, reinvents the game. And he is expanding the Republican vote.
What most surprises me, however, is the approach taken to Trump by his enemies, those known under the rubric #NeverTrump and those better heeled who have blown millions on nauseating and evidently useless attack ads painting Donald as Mussolini with a bad haircut. For a group of smart people, in some cases very smart, they seem to have skipped Psychology 101 in college, making them curiously oblivious to the blowback from their assaults. Or maybe, more simply, they have forgotten what we all learned in the school yard in the second grade — if you can’t lick em, join ’em. (Personally, I find it hard to resist someone who finally spoke a truth at that press conference that the media seems deliberately to have ignored all year: “I don’t think there is such a thing as an establishment.” There isn’t — and who would want one?)
The best approach to someone like Trump, who is at heart a business pragmatist without rigid ideological convictions (convictions that would make it extremely difficult for a businessman to function), is to love him to death. That way you bring him over to your side, politically and ideologically. It should be obvious, like Willy Loman, Donald only wants to be “well-liked.” He doesn’t even make a secret of it. He wants to make a deal and fairly invites co-optation.
Trump himself, in that press conference or whatever you want to call it (press-infomercial?), extended an olive branch of sorts to his opposition in the Republican Party at large. They should take him up on it — at the same time urging him to reciprocate and keep it up on his end. Start a mutual admiration society.
Now I realize Ted Cruz, victor in Idaho, is still in the game — quite legitimately. And, as I have noted, I would pleased to vote for him if he wins. But the Trump Derangement Syndrome has got to go. Ix-nay on the anger-ay. We are headed to an epochal general election and November is closer than it seems. Close your eyes and it’s here. The time to start dialing down the internecine warfare is now. After all, Trump won Hawaii.
Roger L. Simon is an award-winning novelist, Academy Award-nominated screenwriter and co-founder of Pj Media. His next book – I Know Best: How Moral Narcissism Is Destroying Our Republic, If It Hasn’t Already – will be published by Encounter Books in June 2016.